Chicago Cubs Swoop In To Steal Big Free Agent

The Boston Red Sox were in. Both the New York Yankees and New York Mets were in. Even the Los Angeles Dodgers were considered in the mix. But the Chicago Cubs came storming in from the outside, and have nabbed star Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga. 

Just 36 hours before his posting period expired, Imanaga agreed to a multi-year deal with the Cubs, to join countryman Seiya Suzuki. Imanaga's contract is said to be worth about $15 million per year, but with some escalators and options that could bring the overall contract to about $80 million. 

It's all contingent upon his physical, which is taking place on Wednesday, still 24 hours in advance of the posting deadline.

How the Japanese starter will fare in the major leagues is still unknown, but food for thought—according to insider Jon Morosi, Imanaga goes by the nickname 'The Throwing Philosopher.' 

At the moment, he'll likely slot in as the No. 2 starter in the Cubs rotation behind Justin Steele, just ahead of Jameson Taillon and Kyle Hendricks. Free agent Marcus Stroman is not expected back, and it appears the Yankees may be starting to warm up to him. 

Imanaga posted a 2.77 ERA last season with the Yokohama Baystars in NPB, along with extremely impressive control, with a 188:24 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his eight seasons there, he has a 3.18 ERA with 9.2 K/9 vs. just 2.4 BB/9, though that has been lower than 2.0 for the past several seasons. 

Photo: Lydia Fizz from Vancouver, Canada, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons